First of May vacations are becoming one of my favorite. And I have traditionally ended up in Italy, but this year it wasn’t Garda or Tuscany.. we made it all the way down to Abruzzo, which was on my bucket list for far too long.
Before we arrived down there we decided to check a few other places. On the way to our first night accommodation, a lovely house made from stones on a top of the hill placed in a region called MARCHE, we stopped for a much deserved Aperol spritz in San Marino. We did the walk around the city and enjoyed the views from the city build on the mountain, which is actually one of the smallest countries in the world. Next day we started with exploring the area. As our country house was just beneath the Monte Nerone which was a nice opportunity to start with ‘explore the mountains’ mission. We fell in love from the first turn we did towards the mountain. You could walk for hours up there and you will not be disappointed at all.
From Marche region we reached UMBRIA. Another lovely region for which we would need more time to discover it all. Our main focus there was Monte Sibillini national park, but we also needed to see a few typical cities and villages in this region. One of them is Spello. I could easily call it the city of flowers as they were all over.. at every tiny street.. on the stairs, windows, floors… But unfortunately there are not only flowers, here comes the sad story of this region. The earthquake in 2016. Don’t really know how to explain how it is. But basically there are empty villages.. people moved out from their homes. You can see ruins and houses protected with wood all over. Roads are damaged and some of them are even closed. It will take time that this region will recover.. and it will for sure never look the same again.
In Monte Sibillini National Park we decided to hit the road towards Refugio Sibilla which is at the altitude of 1540 and from there we could easily reach Monte Sibilla (2173m). But.. well I will not forget this day. The road was closed, so we needed to walk up there. As there were no shortcuts or other paths we hit the road. Of course, Refugio was closed and the path towards Monte Sibilla was soon forgotten as we were leaking out of time and energy. I must say that the views paid it off. But.. when I’ve asked why the road is closed I got quite an honest answer from a couple we were sharing the same road the whole day. They have closed the road because the roof of Refugio is damaged. Even for them this doesn’t make sense, but they are totally ok with it. Well, Monte Sibilla, we will meet again.
And finally, we arrived at ABRUZZO. We stopped at L’Aquilla and quite fast decided this will not be our place to stay during the night. Streets were scary empty and the idea of ‘feel the big city’ was quickly forgotten. We found a perfect alternative half an hour driving towards the mountains, Calasico, one of the typical villages around this area. It was so nice that we stayed longer than we planned. We for sure came out of season, but I can’t believe that a lot of people are visiting this area. We were almost the only tourist around and it felt good although it was strange.
Here comes the final part of our trip Gran Sasso National Park. Now I know why they call this region Littel Tibet. The plateau at about 1500m altitude with mountains all around which goes almost to 3000m. I was trying to capture most of it with my camera, but I couldn’t. It is so much nicer when you are there. We took a walk at one of the hills which were in the middle of the plateau so we could get a better feeling of the place. The weather gave this place even more mystical atmosphere. I need to see it in winter. It is heaven for tour skiing, ski kiting and even normal skiing as they are having a ski resort at Campo Imperatore (1800m).
From Gran Sasso, we slowly moved back towards home as the weather went bad so we decided to spend a few more days at our favorite home location.
To sum up the 2000km long road trip: Definitely worth driving down there. One week to get a brief feeling of the area it is enough, but if you want to do more I would recommend a few days longer vacations. In this time of the year (end of April) it was quite easy to find accommodation, but next time we will come with a van and will be looking for camping areas as you can get closer to the mountains. And now to the sensitive topic, food. It is believed that this region is food heaven if you like meat and truffles. I guess we expected too much or we need to learn Italian. Language is a huge issue as most of them do not speak english. You could help with some german or spanish, but english.. not really. We were not hungry, but we expected much more. I must say that this region is for sure heaven for road bikes and hikers and there is also a potential for mountain biking but no one is doing it (yet). It is for sure a place which needs to be scouted more and I am sure we will find places to hike and bike and most of all to eat that delicious steak with truffles. 🙂